KARACHI: The two-Test series between Sri Lanka and Pakistan gets underway in Galle on August 6 (Wednesday), with the hosts aiming to improve their ranking in the ICC Test Team Rankings table, and Pakistan looking to retain their third position. Pakistan are currently ranked third with 103 ratings points, while Sri Lanka are eight ratings points behind in sixth position, with 95 ratings points. While the final rankings of each team are heavily dependent on the ongoing five-Test series between England and India, both will be aiming for a series win to avoid downwards movement. The five-Test series between England and India will end a day after the series between Sri Lanka and Pakistan finishes. The series between England and India is currently locked in a 1-1 deadlock at the end of the first three Tests.
Meanwhile, Pakistan must win the series to maintain their hold on third position and thereby close the gap with South Africa and Australia in first and second place, respectively, while Sri Lanka could drop a place to seventh in such a scenario. On the other hand, if Sri Lanka were to win the series 1-0, it could move up one place to fifth, while a 2-0 win will hand Angelo Mathews’ side a rise of two places to fourth. A series loss by any margin will mean that Pakistan would drop to sixth. A 1-1 series deadlock will see both sides maintaining their pre-series rankings.
Meanwhile, with an eye on the other ongoing series, South Africa will be aiming to keep their number-one position when they face off against Zimbabwe in a one-off Test in Harare from August 9. South Africa, currently ranked first in the Test Rankings after reclaiming the top spot following a 1-0 series victory against Sri Lanka, must win the Test to stay on top of the tree. A draw or loss will see Hashim Amla’s team drop below Australia into second position. Zimbabwe’s ranking of ninth will not change regardless of the outcome of the Test, but should the side defeat South Africa, it will gain 10 ratings points and close the gap with eighth-ranked West Indies.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan will start their two-match Test series with as many as three of the top 10 batsmen in the ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen likely to be seen in action. Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara, who was adjudged the ICC Cricketer of the Year and Test Cricketer of the Year in 2012 at the LG ICC Awards in Colombo, will lead the charge, alongside skipper Angelo Mathews (sixth) and his Pakistan counter-part Misbahul Haq (seventh) during the two-Test series. Amongst the other stars in the top 20, Pakistan’s Younus Khan (11th) and Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardena (14th) are also expected to play. Among the bowlers inside the top 20 of the ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers likely to be seen in action are Saeed Ajmal (fifth), Rangana Herath (eighth), Abdur Rehman (14th) and Junaid Khan (17th).